After a fairly indifferent first season at Stamford Bridge, where he became known mostly for forming a symbiotic relationship with Ross Barkley for the left-central midfield position in Maurizio Sarri’s rigid 4-3-3, Mateo Kovacic has emerged as one of the key players in Frank Lampard’s midfield and perhaps the most indispensable. Consider that he has to compete with N’Golo Kante and Jorginho for minutes, that’s certainly saying something.
Kovacic, who’s still only 25 but feels a lot older as he’s been around the top level of the game for a long time — and expected to be the next greatest thing for just about as long as well — credits some of that development to feeling a lot more settled this season than last.
“Maybe it is because I have signed here [permanently] so now I am more calm. Because last year was a loan, it was maybe more difficult to prove myself, but this year I feel a lot better because I had one year’s adaptation and now I am feeling good.
“The guys are amazing, the staff are really good and my family is happy. It is really important to me that my family feels good and for now everything is amazing so we are enjoying everything about London and Chelsea, it’s really nice.”
In a recent interview with the Spanish press, Kovacic also talked about how much he’s enjoying Lampard’s training sessions. Having made an appearance in all but four games this season — starting 12 in a row in all competitions at one point — it’s all going swimmingly for the wonderfully skilled midfielder, who’s working on improving certain aspects of his game to make him an ever more well-rounded player. He’s even scored a couple goals this season, at long last!
How well is it going? He’s even enjoying the weather!
“The country suits me because the weather is not so hot. That’s always important because when I trained in Madrid it was a little bit difficult, always 30 degrees. It was tough sometimes to train but here the climate is amazing so I’m enjoying it a lot.
“I’m used to this weather because I lived in Austria and was raised there, and the weather is the same. For training it is amazing. Maybe for our families it’s not so good but for us players, it’s good!”
-Mateo Kovacic; source: Chelsea FC
Time to take advantage of the poor weather to collect some big points on the pitch then!